The boxes and totes are stacked ready to load on a truck after weeks of sorting and packing and pitching thirty-five years of stuff that has been collected. With four children, who are all grown and gone, doing life on their own, their lifetime of memories were left behind for my husband and I to go through, adding to the difficulty of “pairing down.” As I looked through years of photos, school papers, medals won and countless other possessions, I fumbled with what to dispose of and what to keep. How do you decide what to leave behind when each thing has a special memory attached to it? What is deemed important enough to keep and what can go?
As I sifted through each item and placed in a box to seal up, my thoughts drifted to the story of Abraham in the Bible (Genesis 12). When God told Abraham to pack up his family and leave to go to a new place, I wondered if Abraham had similar thoughts that I have had? He wasn’t just moving “things,” but livestock and “mobile homes” (tents) as well. He was packing up his entire family and their stuff. Were there things he had to leave behind?
How about the Israelites during the Exodus? When God said it’s time to move out, they didn’t really have time to pack up 400 years of “stuff” (Exodus 12:33-39). Did they have a hard time deciding what to take and what to leave behind? Since the beginning of time, people have had to move from one place to another. Camel packs have been replaced by moving boxes and moving companies, but the thoughts and feelings of the people who move are very much the same. It’s hard to leave a place of familiarity, a place where memories are baked in the walls of the home you have made. You wonder as you look around your empty house for the last time if those memories will now be forgotten. Your heart swells with emotion as you turn and close the door for the last time. The memories rush after you, trying to squeeze through the door before it locks. Kids on the stairs on Christmas morning, waiting excitedly to come down to see the gifts under the tree. Laughing and splashing erupting from the pool out back. Quiet, intimate moments with your hubby, and the quiet moments of sitting on a child’s bed, snuggling and reading a bedtime story. Birthday parties and cookouts with family and friends, and holiday toastings to new years. The years have been good to us here, but God has said it is time to move. I think about the things we have left behind, things we have donated so that others can enjoy. They are just that, “things” that served their purpose for a time, but the memories attached to them will travel with me wherever we go. I love that God has created us to have the ability to remember those things that are special. He must have thought we would need this when his plans for our life required a move. Now, I will be able to picture them in my mind as we recall special times in years past, and know that now, someone else is getting to make memories with those same “things.”
As we leave the driveway for the last time, I take one more look. I smile at the thought of a new young family bringing new life inside the walls of this house. The laughter and patter of little feet that will once again fill this home. I turn and look forward to our new destination and what new memories await us there. Though the house is smaller than before, there will be enough room to house my memories of old. I have toted along with me, not “things,” but pictures of a lifetime spent in a home we built, stored in my heart. These are truly the treasures acquired and kept.